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Company Profile of Dippin' Dots -
May 5th, 2011
Dippin' Dots is an ice cream snack, invented by Southern Illinois University Carbondale graduate Curt Jones in 1987. The confection is created by flash freezing ice cream mix in liquid nitrogen; consequently, Dippin' Dots contain less air than conventional ice cream. The resulting small spheres of ice cream are stored at temperatures ranging from -70 to -20 °F (from -57 °C to -29 °C). The marketing slogan is "Ice Cream of the Future". The snack is made by Dippin' Dots, Inc., headquartered in Paducah, Kentucky.
Dippin' Dots Flavored Ice Cream
Dippin' Dots store entrance in Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico.
Amusement park stand, Valleyfair amusement park, Shakopee, Minnesota.
Dippin' Dots Amusement Park Stand in Cedar Point of Sandusky, Ohio.
The company, headquartered in Paducah, Ky, United States, recently began selling its product in stores such as supermarkets in the United States. On its official website, the company notes that its product requires storage at temperatures below −20 °F (−29 °C), which is considerably colder than standard home freezers. Dippin' Dots are sold in individual servings at franchised outlets, many in stadiums, shopping malls, and in vending machines. Theme parks such as Schlitterbahn, Six Flags, Cedar Fair, PARC Management, Kennywood, SeaWorld, stadiums and arenas also sell Dippin' Dots. The ice cream is sold over the Internet for delivery to homes and businesses.
Several competing beaded ice-cream lines have been introduced in recent years. Some of these competing brands are similar to Dippin' Dots in shape or size, yet differ in that they use dairy stabilizers and artificial sweeteners, in an effort to keep the beads from adhering to one another. Dippin' Dots, made from conventional ice cream ingredients, are held at sub-zero temperatures to keep the beads separate and free-flowing.
The company has a line of novelties called Dot Delicacies made by combining the Dippin' Dots ice cream with other snack foods. A dotwich is an ice cream sandwich made by combining Dippin' Dots and fudge and placing between two cookies. Milk shakes, sundaes and ice cream floats are also sold at many locations. The company also has a line of ice cream cakes sold only at its franchised retail stores.
Dippin' Dots Franchising, LLC is the franchise division of the company. The company sells franchise rights to sell Dippin' Dots ice cream at retail stores in the U.S.
Dippin' Dots Global, Inc. represents the company in select markets outside the U.S. and its territories. Dippin' Dots are produced in Seoul, South Korea, for distribution throughout the Pacific Rim. The company maintains a distribution center in Melbourne, Australia as well.
Dippin' Dots were patented, but the patent was ruled invalid in February 2007. The jury found for the defendants based on the validity of the original patent.
Dippin' Dots, as the originators of the beaded ice cream concept, are featured quite often in the media. The ice cream has been featured on the Oprah Winfrey show, Food TV, and The Travel Channel. It was featured on Gene Simmons Family Jewels on A&E Network. Dippin' Dots was recently the title sponsor for the "Celebrity Grand Slam Paddle Jam" celebrity ping pong tournament in Hollywood. Proceeds went to benefit St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. The company is also a contributor to the charity Give Kids the World Village in Kissimmee, Florida. The show "Modern Marvels" recently included Dippin' Dots in their segment on the history and future of ice cream. Dippin' Dots most recently collaborated with the newest adaptation of Journey to the Center of the Earth, awarding the winner a trip to Iceland, the location of the film.
On December 19, 2008, the company made an announcement that it is exploring the option of combining resources with another, unknown company. The spokesperson for the company stated "Dippin' Dots will continue to take orders and ship product as we have for the past twenty years". The Dippin' Dots Franchising, Inc. brand earned rank 112 on the Entrepreneur "Franchise 500" in 2008.
Few products can claim to have "re-invented" one of the world's best-known treats.
In 1988, Dippin' Dots Founder and Chairman Curt Jones changed the way the world enjoys ice cream. Jones, a microbiologist, pioneered the process of cryogenic encapsulation...a scientific way of saying he used super-cold freezing methods to make little beads of ice cream. Not only were the ice cream beads delicious and fun to eat, Jones knew that flash-freezing the ice cream ingredients would lock in flavor and freshness. With those qualities established, Dippin' Dots were ready to take on the world!
A retail store in Lexington, Kentucky...gatherings of friends and family in Jones' hometown in Pulaski County, IL...and locations inside one of the nation's premiere amusement parks, Opryland USA, helped form what Dippin' Dots is today. The ice cream now has a home in thousands of locations worldwide in theme parks, fairs & festivals and franchised store locations.
So what exactly are Dippin' Dots? Actually, it's fun to watch "first-timers" expressions when they take their first bite. After overcoming the sight of their ice cream beads "pouring" into a cup there's the look of amazement that ice cream can be "tingly and almost crunchy" (their words!). When the smooth, creamy ice cream begins to melt in their mouth...a fan is born! It's truly a treat for kids of all ages. And finally, to answer the question, Dippin' Dots are made from fresh dairy ingredients flavored with fun, fruity, enticing and even exotic flavors. The mixture is frozen almost instantly in liquid nitrogen, a common element in the atmosphere used commercially for flash freezing. After production, Dippin' Dots are packaged and shipped worldwide.
Dippin' Dots are made at the company's Administrative, Sales, Franchising, and production headquarters in Paducah, Kentucky.
Although 2001 started on a bad note with the layoff of 13 of the firm's 160 workers due to a sales slump, the year also brought good news when plans were made to test-market Dippin' Dots at more than 250 McDonald's restaurants in the San Francisco Bay area. The trial was a success, and an official rollout was begun in May of 2002. McDonald's spent $1.2 million to promote the ice cream, which was offered in vanilla, chocolate, and banana split flavors. Soon, other McDonald's in California and Nevada signed on, with additional locations expected to follow suit. To supply the restaurants, Dippin' Dots set up a special distribution system. Although concerns were expressed about a possible negative impact on sales at established outlets, it was felt that the increased availability would boost public awareness of the products across the board. In addition to the McDonald's restaurants, Dippin' Dots were available around the United States at 800 sites, including theme parks, stadiums, movie theaters, and travel plazas, as well as in 250 shopping malls and at 300 special events. The company was now ranked the third largest ice cream franchiser in the country behind Baskin Robbins and Dairy Queen.
Dippin' Dots' core customer group were children and teenagers, and during the summer of 2002 the company's first national advertising campaign was launched with ads in Seventeen and Nickelodeon magazines. A firm was also hired to place Dippin' Dots in movie and television programs to gain exposure through so-called "product placement." At the same time, a new freezer which almost doubled the firm's storage capacity was added to the Paducah plant.
The company was also now beginning the process of fighting a patent infringement lawsuit that had been brought against it by a Canadian firm, IQF, Inc., which alleged that Dippin' Dots' patent for freezing ice cream infringed on an earlier one held by IQF. Several years before this, Dippin' Dots itself had filed suit against a company called Mini Melts of Mystic, Connecticut, for alleged trademark, patent, and trade dress infringements, as well as against the makers of Frosty Bites, a knock-off product created by a former Dippin' Dots distributor and marketed in several cities in the South.
In early 2003, a second manufacturing plant was opened in Ansong, South Korea, which was owned by Dippin' Dots Korea, an independent licensee. It would supply the firm's products to Southeast Asian countries, including Korea, Japan, Singapore, and the Philippines. Dippin' Dots now came in more than 23 flavors, including the recently added chocolate-covered cherry, cotton candy, and chocolate chip cookie dough. Some varieties were low-fat and fat-free. Serving sizes were four, five, and eight-ounce cups, as well as special foil pouches sold in vending machines.
In the spring of 2003, Dippin' Dots celebrated its 15th anniversary by launching a sweepstakes in conjunction with Universal Studios. The prizes included four trips to the Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure theme parks in Florida, where Dippin' Dots was sold. The contest was advertised on the company's Web site and on Nickelodeon cable television, which broadcast a cartoon that was the basis for a new ride.
Dippin' Dots was now ranked 144th on Entrepreneur magazine's list of the top 500 franchises in North America, and 4th on its list of new franchise opportunities. It was the highest-placing food vendor in the latter category. The initial franchise fee charged by the company was $12,500, with startup costs estimated at between $46,000 and $190,000.
With its expansion still in high gear, Dippin' Dots, Inc. was celebrating 15 years in business with an eye toward greater triumphs ahead. The firm's unique bead-sized frozen treats were irresistible to many, and with further markets left to conquer the company's growth looked assured for some time to come.
Principal Subsidiaries: Dippin' Dots Franchising Inc.
Principal Competitors: Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream Co.; International Dairy Queen, Inc.; Allied Domecq PLC; CoolBrands International, Inc.
Sales: $34 million (2002 est.)
NAIC: 311520 Ice Cream and Frozen Dessert Manufacturing
1988: Inventor Curt Jones forms Dippin' Dots, Inc. to sell beaded ice cream.
1989: Jones closes his initial store but sales to fairs and Opryland USA take off.
1990: The company's production facilities are moved from Illinois to Paducah, Kentucky.
1991: The firm establishes a dealer network for sale to fairs, festivals, and other sites.
1994: International sales begin through licensee in Japan.
1995: The company opens a new 32,000-square-foot production facility.
1997: The company's plant is expanded by an additional 20,000 square feet.
2002: Dippin' Dots are added to the menus of more than 250 West Coast McDonald's.
2003: An Asian licensee opens a new manufacturing plant in South Korea.
5101 Charter Oak Drive
Paducah, Kentucky 42001